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Tua and the Elephant

Tua and the Elephant

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Tua and the Elephant

3.5/5 (12 évaluations)
144 pages
1 heure
Apr 6, 2012


Ten-year-old Tua—Thai for "peanut"—has everything she needs at home in Chiang Mai, Thailand, except for one thing she's always wanted: a sister. In the market one day, Tua makes an accidental acquaintance—one with wise, loving eyes, remarkable strength, and a very curious trunk. And when Tua meets Pohn-Pohn, it's clear this elephant needs her help. Together, the unusual team sets off on a remarkable journey to escape from Pohn-Pohn's vile captors. From the bustling night market to the hallowed halls of a Buddhist temple and finally, to the sanctuary of an elephant refuge, this clever girl and her beloved companion find that right under their noses is exactly what each has been searching for: a friend.
Apr 6, 2012

À propos de l'auteur

R.P. Harris has traveled the world with his wife, spending much time in Asia, including three months in Thailand, where this story was born. He is currently living in Shanghai, China.

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Aperçu du livre

Tua and the Elephant - R.P. Harris



When Tua was born, a nurse in the delivery room exclaimed, Look at the little peanut! Tua, in Thai, means peanut. And Tua, having arrived prematurely, was quite small. At that exact moment, she let out such a scream for attention that all of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room exhaled sighs of relief. It was clear that this baby, small though she was, was a survivor. She had just ordered them to get on with the job of making her comfortable, and that is exactly what they did. Soon everyone in the maternity ward was calling the little baby in the incubator Tua.

And that is how she got her name.


In the Night Market

Tua and her mother lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on a quiet lane near one of the city’s most popular night markets.

Tua, darling, where are you? I need your help. My shoes have run off, and I’m late for work.

Tua leapt up from her desk and ran to fetch her mother’s shoes from outside the front door.

Wherever did you find them? I looked everywhere.

They were on the porch, Tua said.

Were they running away or sneaking back home?

They were where you left them when you came home from work, she reminded her mother. Like you always do.

Suay Nam hugged and kissed her daughter, then slipped on her shoes. "What would I do without you? Oh, I’m late! What time is it? I gotta go. I love you the most!"

I love you the most, Tua called down the stairs.

If you need anything, go to Auntie Orchid’s. And don’t stay out too late at the night market. Have you got the number of the restaurant?

I’ve got it, Tua said.

As soon as her mother was out of sight, Tua put away her homework and dashed into the street as if late for an appointment of her own.

"Sawatdee kha, Uncle," Tua said to Somchai, the roti pancake vendor.

Who speaks? Somchai called over his cart.

It’s me, Tua, Tua said, stretching to the tips of her toes and waving her hand in the air.

Of course it is, who else could it be? Somchai replied, handing Tua a banana roti with chocolate sauce and condensed milk.

"Khawp khun kha." Tua politely thanked him.

How’s your mother?

She’s working at the restaurant tonight, Tua said, and took a greedy bite of the banana roti.

Always working. Every day and every night. Somchai stretched his neck like a tortoise and sighed. Some of us were only born to work.

I’m going to the night market, Tua said.

Don’t let me keep you from your appointed rounds, then. Better play while you may.

"Kha." Tua waved good-bye and zigzagged through the clogged traffic to the other side of the street.

Hey, Tua, what’s your big hurry? Uncle Khun the tuk-tuk driver called out as she skipped onto the curb. He was collapsed in the back of his three-wheeled taxi, with one bare leg dangling over the side like a python.

I’m going to the night market, Tua pouted. But recalling her mother’s warning, Girls who pout bite their cheeks, she immediately unpuckered her face.

Get in, Khun winked. I’ll give you a good price.

No thank you, she said. I’m almost there.

Khun threw back his head to laugh, thought better of it, pulled a newspaper over his face, and fell asleep to a lullaby of honking horns, screeching tires, and the occasional collision.

The alley Tua ducked down, soi 5, led her to the middle of the night market. She stopped at the end with hands on hips, surveying her domain as if waiting for a cue to enter the stage.

Strings of bare lightbulbs crisscrossed overhead, igniting the street in a blaze. Vendors’ carts crowded both sides of the street, hawking their wares to the people strolling down the middle. Curries with rice and curries with noodles; pad Thai and pad Thai omelets; rotis with chocolate sauce and condensed milk; sticky rice and mango; green papaya salad with shredded carrots, tomatoes, green onions, and peanuts. Taro, tamarind, durian, and coconut ice cream, and crispy banana fritters. Sliced watermelon, pineapple, papaya, and mango nestled on beds of crushed ice. Coconut oil sizzled in woks, grills smoked, and blenders whirred.

A traditional band made up of a coconut-shell fiddle, bamboo flute, skin drum, chimes, gongs, and a wooden xylophone competed with a boy dancing to pop music on a screeching boom box. A girl in a school uniform scratched out a tune on a battered violin.

"Sawatdee khrap, Tua," said a bare-chested boy as he hung a string of jasmine flowers around her neck. White jasmine necklaces climbed up the length of his arm.

"Khawp khun kha, Ananda," she thanked him, lifting the string of flowers to her nose and inhaling the sugary-sweet scent.

Lam, Ananda’s sister, tugged at Tua’s elbow. Tua lifted the girl in her arms and rubbed noses with her.

Tua nodded at the dozens of jasmine necklaces around her neck. You smell good enough to eat. Are you going to sell all of those tonight?

Lam shook her head no, then nodded yes.

Come, Lam, Ananda said. He reached for his sister, sat her down, and took her by the hand. See you later, Tua!

"Kha." Tua waved good-bye and stepped into the strolling current.

Halfway through the market, Tua stopped to watch a man carve a bar of soap into the shape of an elephant when she heard a voice call out behind her.

Does the little peanut want a foot massage?

Tua spun around and searched the rows of people on mats having their muscles and limbs pummeled and pulled until she spotted Auntie Duan, the blind masseuse.

"Sawatdee kha, Auntie. How did you know it was me?"

By the sound of your footsteps.

But it’s too noisy to hear my footsteps, Tua argued.

Then I must have smelled you, Duan shrugged.

Tua still wasn’t convinced. What do I smell like?

Night jasmine and chocolate sauce, guessed Auntie Duan.

Tua opened her mouth but was too flabbergasted to speak.

Tua, don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open like a carp, hollered Auntie Nam, the curry noodle vendor. Run over to Uncle Sip’s and fetch me some bean sprouts. And don’t let the old bandit cheat you, she warned, flipping a ten-baht coin into Tua’s hands.

"Kha," Tua said, after closing her mouth and inspecting the coin. Then she leapt into the market like a cat, weaving her way through and around the legs of the shoppers until she came to a stop in front of Uncle Sip’s vegetable stand.

"Sawatdee kha, Uncle."

What’s that? he barked, still angry with the chef who had offered such a ridiculously low price for his cabbages. Some people didn’t seem to know that life is a wheel, and that every living thing is only a spoke in the wheel of life.

Life is a wheel, Tua, Uncle Sip declared suddenly, as if the idea had just occurred to him.

And we are only spokes in the wheel of life, Uncle.

This response brought Sip out of his reverie. He looked down at Tua and grinned like a gecko.

You are so smart, Tua. Who taught you that?

You did, Uncle.

No wonder you’re so smart, then. Did you finish your homework?

"Kha, Tua said, crossing her fingers behind her back. All finished."

"Good. That’s good, because you’ll never get ahead in this world on night market philosophy alone. You need an education. Let’s test your math and haggling skills. Pretend you’re here

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12 évaluations / 2 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (4/5)
    What a delightful story! Fast paced, easy and fun to read.

    Tua (peanut in Thai), lives with her mother in Thailand... she is an intelligent little girl with many friends in the market.

    One afternoon, Tua slips through a hole in a wall and comes upon a small elephant being mistreated by two dreadful men. Tua & the elephant communicate at the heart level, so Tua follows the men & the Elephant to the banks of the river where they camp each night and takes the elephant away with her.....

    The men awake to find the Elephant missing and give chase. With the help of the community in which she lives, Tua is able to keep the elephant away from the men.

    Absolutely Delightful!
  • (4/5)
    A delightful adventure with a charming protagonist. Lovely illustrations and design.